VISITORS will have the chance to go behind the scenes at York Minster’s Stoneyard on Friday, to see the ancient craft skills used to preserve one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals.

The annual Stoneyard Open Day invites people to visit the cathedral’s workshops to learn about the work carried out by its craftspeople to repair, restore and protect the Minster’s historic fabric, using techniques passed down through the centuries.

Pieces of stonework on show will include four recently carved grotesques produced by stonemasons to replace four weathered figures removed from the cathedral last year, which were believed to date from the late 1700s. The new carvings include a figure of St George, his legendary foe the dragon, and a medieval doctor, and a figure inspired by a homeless person.

Visitors will also have the chance to join special tours of the Stoneyard’s plaster cast museum and the Master Mason’s drawing office, or take a trip up the South Quire Aisle scaffolding to see the stone conservation work taking place on this part of the cathedral.

Alex McCallion, York Minster’s Director of Works and Precinct, said: “Our annual Open Day always proves popular with visitors and it’s a great way for us to showcase the incredible craft skills which go into maintaining this 800-year-old building, from new stone to joinery and leadwork.

“Every stone replaced on the Minster is hand carved by our team of 15 masons and we have a rolling programme of conservation works needed to maintain the building for the next 30 years.

“Our current project, to conserve and restore the cathedral’s 14th century South Quire Aisle, involves repairing and replacing stone in 15 window bays and will take 11 years and £11m to complete.”